Archive for August, 2006

I’ve always wanted to be an adjective

August 31st, 2006

A really nice review of Fun Home just came out on a site called The Simon. Here’s the pertinent passage: “There is enough distinctive material in her squirmy black line art with pale grey-green wash to actually say Bechdelian.”

Tee Corinne

August 30th, 2006

sinister wisdom by tee corinne

Lesbian icon, artist, and photographer Tee Corinne died on Sunday, of cancer. It’s very sad–she was only 62. The erotic images she was creating in the late seventies and early eighties were a big influence on me when I was first starting out as a cartoonist. This photo from 1977, “Sinister Wisdom,” is one of her most well-known shots.

Here’s a passage about it from an interview with Tee in Nothing But The Girl, Susie Bright’s and Jill Posener’s excellent compendium of lesbian erotic photography:

Tee became the poster girl of the lesbian living room when she created a cover for the radical feminist journal Sinister Wisdom, in which one woman cradles another. Tee recalls that the picture was originally submitted to a sex education textbook publisher who refused it:

“The editor of the Sex Atlas wrote to me and said that one woman’s hair was too short, and the other’s breasts were too long; the couple appeared to have an age difference, and people would think it was a sort of mother/daughter picture…My response was, ‘You fucker, I’ll make that picture famous.’ I didn’t know how, but I just knew the picture was strong, and eventually I solarized it. Within a year, that image had become the poster that everyone in the women’s community had on their wall.”

Here’s a link to a blog about Tee’s illness, with more details. And check out Susie Bright’s blog for a really nice piece about Tee, the August 27th entry.

black and white

August 29th, 2006

negative space

Procrastinating again. But aren’t these photographs interesting? That’s me in front of Canterbury Cathedral last February, totally in silhouette. Just like the white cat I met in Wisconsin last month. Doesn’t she looks vaporized, like someone cut a cat shape out of the photo? I love negative space.

What is real? A short disquisition.

August 25th, 2006

our mutual friend

I should be writing episodes 494 and 495 right now, but to procrastinate, I started reading the comments people were making about 493. The very aptly named Sir Real brought up an excellent question which I’d like to address, “What ‘actually’ happened in the DTWOF world” in this episode? Did Lois trash Ginger’s car? Did Sydney really make an assignation with Madeleine right in front of Mo?

I get confused myself with episodes like this. In fact, I just came up with a conceptual category for them—I’ve started thinking of them as “speculative” episodes. Just as speculative fiction imagines worlds that are different from this one while illuminating some aspect of our reality, a speculative DTWOF episode imagines a course of action that does not actually occur in the world of the strip but which attempts to shed some light on current events.

Being very fond of the first formulation of Kant’s categorical imperative–“Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it would become a universal law”—I like to take it out for a test drive occasionally.

For example, what if we all behaved in our domestic lives the way the Bush Administration conducts foreign policy? Or the way Enron conducted business? (Here are some examples of “speculative” episodes: Foreign Policy, Snug as a Bug, Everyday Enron.)

Obviously, I try not to do strips like this too often because then the whole cartoon universe would dissolve into meaninglessness.

Even so, things remain a little blurry because the behavior of the characters in speculative episodes isn’t entirely inconsistent with their personalities. That’s why they’re funny. (If they’re funny, which sometimes they’re not. Doublethink, for example, I consider a humor failure.)

Like, I wouldn’t put it past Sydney to make a date with Madeleine while Mo was sitting right there. (And I’m sorry, but I must congratulate myself here. Don’t you think “our mutual friend” is the best name for an English professor’s dildo ever?)

Sir Real goes on to ask, “So, Alison, are the events of this strip part of the `canon’, so to speak? Or more of a play-within-a-play sort of aside? (Or a lapse like Watson’s wandering war wound?)” The answer is no, they’re not part of the ‘canon.’ Nor are they lapses. They’re asides.

Aren’t you glad you asked?

Some non-lawn related items

August 24th, 2006

1. Fun Home has been nominated for a Quill Book Award in the graphic novel category. I’m sorry to say that I had never heard of the Quill Book Awards before this, but apparently they’re some kind consumer’s choice deal, and everyone can cast a vote. So my publicist said I should put it on my blog.

2. If you live in Seattle, come hear me read at the Bumbershoot Festival. I’m doing a reading Monday, September 4th at 6:30, in some place called the Alki Room, with Sean Wilsey. He’s the author of a wild memoir called Oh, the Glory of it All, and he’s also the guy who reviewed Fun Home for the New York Times Book Review–as you may recall he actually drove to my home town to fact-check me. It should be an interesting evening.

We normally don’t delight in the misfortune of others, but Sean Wilsey and Alison Bechdel have written such hilarious memoirs, that they’ve redeemed a good many of their readers’ horrible childhoods. John Douglas Marshall, Seattle P-I book critic and himself an award-winning memoirist, moderates the session of family therapy guaranteed to make you laugh.

3. Sorry about all the trouble people are having reading the strip and tweaking their browsers. Eventually I’ll get this sorted out. I promise.

4. If you get tired of voting for Fun Home to get a Quill award, you can vote for my high school boyfriend to win the HGTV Design Star contest. It’s one of them crazy Survivor-derivative shows, you know, where people compete to be the last person standing? Or in this case, the last interior designer standing. Normally I find those things excruciating to watch, but knowing someone–even if I only really knew him thirty years ago–makes it much more interesting.

Anyhow, you can go to the Design Star site, scroll down to “You Be The Judge” and vote through Friday for Tym. He used to be Tim. I guess Tym is his designer name.

the march of progress

August 24th, 2006

before and after

I got a lawnmower. A guy down the road said he could refurbish one for me for fifty bucks. He didn’t think the scythe was such a good idea. And I didn’t think the goat was such a good idea.

So I terrorized a beautiful snake and countless frogs, I cut down the stand of Queen Anne’s lace, the peppermint that had run amok, the bright jewelweed. And now my lush, verdant lawn is a brownish field of stubble strewn with unseemly clods of chewed up grass.

But despite the tingling in my hands and the lingering aroma of gasoline, I feel strangely virtuous. Maybe next I’ll tackle my email backlog.

In Bookclubs and in Hebrew!

August 23rd, 2006

If you happen to speak Hebrew, the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz has printed a review of Fun Home.

In other news from around the world, Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center is featuring a book club talk on Fun Home, moderated by well-known cartoonist Rob Kirby. If you’re in the area, don’t miss it. Thursday, October 5th at 7:00.


August 23rd, 2006

Read the rest of this entry »


August 18th, 2006

Cool. Someone made a Wikipedia entry for Fun Home. It wasn’t me–I would have spelled “focusing” right. But it’s very nice, and accurate to boot. I wonder who it was.


August 12th, 2006


I’ve been slowly hacking away at my overgrown thatch of email, but I’ve given up on my lawn. In fact, my mower died. I’m considering getting a scythe, one of those grim reaper things. That seems like it would be a lot more pleasant than a noisy stinking mower.

I feel bad that I haven’t been keeping up the regular posts I was managing on my travels. But I’ve been working, which pretty much precludes blogging, but of course is what ultimately gives me something to blog about.

Here’s a story about me and Fun Home that ran this week in my local daily paper, the Burlington Free Press.